This is one of the many quotations left to us by the great Winston Churchill. He finished by saying that the most important thing about education is “appetite”. Any of us could finish this sentence in a different way. Here at Rathfinny Estate we aim to whet the appetite as well as fulfil it. We are also aware that education does not stop when you leave school. The appetite may change, you may seek new ideas or just wish to look at the world via a different perspective.
In the English wine industry we are fortunate to have Plumpton College, which is affiliated to Brighton University, right on our doorstep. Plumpton has become world renowned for its courses in both vinification and viticulture. Many of our vineyard staff have been trained at Plumpton and continue to do so. The Estate were major supporters of the new Rathfinny Research Winery at the college to really hone the skills of their students which come from all over the world to study there.
As I write this blog I’m on my way to Cornwall for a week’s break in Treyarnon near Padstow. I used to work in Treyarnon Bay and have fond memories of the area and people; I’m certainly going to try a couple of bottles of Camel Valley whilst I’m there along with a few other Cornish tipples. It’s been hectic on the Estate since the New Year and the Flint Barns have been no exception to this. We’ve launched our new website www.flintbarns.com and this has had over 1000 views already and with the website going live, we also launched the online booking engine and this has already been busy.
It is often said that we know less about our oceans than we do our solar system, what is more amazing is that we know less about our soil under our feet than we do the surface of the moon.
In order to broaden my knowledge last week I attended a field lab on Soil analysis, which looked at different approaches to soil analysis and comparing them. As growers we are faced today with various methods and approaches to assess the fertility and health of our soils, and new methods are being continuously developed.
The newspapers this week have been full of articles about how a group of Sussex wine producers, including Rathfinny, are drawing up a proposal for a PDO. So what is a PDO and why are Rathfinny so keen about a PDO for Sussex?
“A Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): is open to products which are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, and with features and characteristics which must be due to the geographical area.”
There are various examples of PDOs in England such as Cornish Pasties, Clotted Cream and Jersey Royal potatoes. Champagne is a PDO, and other wine regions across Europe have established PDO status to protect the producers within specified geographical regions.
PDOs are “EU Protected Food Name schemes” that “highlight(s) regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed.” They are designed to promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs across Europe.
There are signs that Spring has arrived with groups of snowdrops at the foot of the trees on the Tye in Alfriston. We are celebrating its arrival with some fabulous new products and a luxury beauty event.
Sarah and Georgia have been hard at work sourcing new products for the Gun Room. Our aim is to bring aspects of the Sussex countryside into our shop, so that our products reflect the changing seasons, our natural resources and activities on the Estate.
As the weather warms up and birds begin to nest, we are stocking Magpie’s Birdy range which includes mugs, plates, tea towels, wash bags and an espresso set for the grown-ups, and some lovely suitcases for young children, all featuring robins, thrushes, blue tits and wagtails. For keen gardeners we have some beautifully designed products from Burgon and Ball.